I was lucky to make it to BlackStack just a few days after their grand opening. Naturally, I ordered one of everything.
Each beer in the lineup, including a White Beer, two New England IPAs, a Dark Saison, and a Black Lager, was entirely noteworthy. From easy drinkers, to dry-hopped delights and bready saisons, there’s not a beer on the menu not worth ordering.
The St. Paul taproom is located just off University in the same building as Can Can Wonderland. Aesthetically, it lies somewhere between the industrial warehouse effect common in urban breweries and a cozy minimalist coffee shop. The enormous windows and retro furniture combine for a cozy, uncluttered effect.
When I solicited my advice, the beertender called over BlackStack’s head brewer, Bob DuVernois. When we first started talking, he was all about the beer. And, knowing he is a seasoned beer veteran, it’s easy to understand why.
He told me, “I remember the first day I ever became interested in beer. I didn’t know shit, but I met a lot of people along the way who showed me what they knew. I learned the style and wisdom of beer.”
One of DuVernois’ key pieces of wisdom is to look at a beer for what it’s made for, not whether you like it or not. “You have to understand the reasons behind a beer and why someone made it,” he says. “I stopped a long time ago saying words like ‘that beer sucks’ about someone else’s beer. Our palates are all different, like thumb prints.”
For the most part, DuVernois is simply here to make beer and enjoy himself. He’s the kind of guy who regularly bikes with guys decades younger than him, and that’s how he brews, too: throwing caution to the wind, likely not giving a shit what bloggers like me think of him.
That’s what DuVernois learned from beer: “He who fears death cannot enjoy life.”
If he lived in fear of the criticism of Untappd users, would he opt for a dark saison? Would he serve two virtually identical IPAs differentiated only by their featured hop? Luckily, we’ll never have to know, and we’ll get to drink all of the above.